Searching for Eternity
"Good morning!" Asato Tsuzuki greeted cheerfully as he entered the bustling office. It was another sunny day in Meifu, the land of the dead. He expected his coworkers to be on their desks or at the water dispenser. When he saw them clustered outside Chief Konoe's office, his interest was immediately piqued.
They were all shinigami or "gods of death". Their work included investigating many interesting and unusual cases that interfered with the judicial process in Meifu. The shinigami answered directly under the King of the Dead and were above many laws.
Tsuzuki had been working in the department for almost 70 years. He was the oldest and lowest paid employee because he was known as a slacker. His partners were changed frequently over the years until he got stuck with a youngster named Kurosaki Hisoka. So he was quite accustomed to a certain routine in the office.
Seeing the other men concentrating on eavesdropping was quite unusual. He approached them, whistling lightly. The mad scientist Watari Yukata shushed him immediately.
"What's up?" Tsuzuki asked curiously. "What's the fuss all about?"
Watari smiled at his naïve friend. "Chief Konoe is talking to a new shinigami. I heard that he's very smart and talented in the human world. When he died, he was offered a position as one of us."
"Oh really?" Tsuzuki's eyes widened. That was truly unusual. "Wasn't he scared that he can't move on to Paradise or something?"
The blond inventor shook his head. "I don't know. I can't hear anything…"
Shinigami were actually people who didn't want to die and had a strong desire to remain alive. They also had plenty of unfinished businesses. They usually used their positions to achieve their own ends. Even Tsuzuki who was optimistic and naïve knew this.
So Tsuzuki and Watari strained their hearing to hear beyond the closed doors. The other shinigami jostled and shushed each other to hear more. It wasn't until Chief Konoe opened the door and yelled for them to get back to work.
Sulking, Tsuzuki went to his desk. His partner hadn't arrived yet. Watari bade him goodbye to tinker with his experiments. The blond scientist was brilliant and creative but his inventions don't always work the way they were supposed to. Everyone in their division had learned to decline any offers to become guinea pigs. Even so, Tsuzuki and Watari still maintained a good friendship.
Tatsumi Seiichirou adjusted his glasses. He was the only one who was in his desk and doing his paperwork. The news of the new shinigami didn't interest him at all. He'd read the file so he considered himself as well-informed.
Hearing them exchange rumors struck him as a trifle childish. It was better for them to start working than to stay gossiping. If this drags on then he would be the one to force them to go back to work.
He had also discussed the matter with Chief Konoe as his secretary. The old man was the Head of the Shokan Division; he was the senior shinigami that everyone deferred to. If the chief himself gave the talking-to to the new boy then anyone can bet that it was important.
Tsuzuki passed him with a cheerful smile. "Hey, Tatsumi, do you know anything about that?"
Before the brown-haired man could reply, the door opened. Chief Konoe stepped out and cleared his throat. The room went silent.
The portly old man wearing a brown suit scanned the room sternly. Everyone tried not to look too guilty. He was always gruff and stern when they were at work but everyone knew that he was a softie. "Everyone, I would like you to welcome a new employee to our department."
Chief Konoe stepped aside. They all leaned forward to get a better look. Their boss hid a smirk when their mouths dropped open.
A pale young man with dark messy hair and a horrible slouch came in the room. He was barefoot; he was wearing a white shirt and old jeans. There were dark circles in his eyes; there wasn't any emotion in his face. All of them exchanged glances uneasily. The young man raised his thumb in his mouth and stared at them quizzically.
Tsuzuki and Tatsumi immediately had the impression of a sly raccoon.
"This is L," the chief said proudly. "He was a great detective in the human world. When he filed for the shinigami position, I immediately snapped him up before any of the other departments could get a hold of him. Tsuzuki!"
The violet-eyed man started. "Yes Chief?"
"I want you to take L along on your next case. You and Kurosaki can teach him the ropes," the older man said coolly. Everyone noticed his slightly evil smirk. They stepped back just a bit. "It's much better for him to know how we work from an old war veteran."
Tsuzuki looked agitated. "Chief! What do I look like, a day care center? You keep dumping kids on me!"
"Look who's talking," Tatsumi retorted without looking up from his report.
"Aw, you're so mean!" the black-haired shinigami said loudly "but can't you assign him to Tatsumi? He doesn't have a partner!"
Chief Konoe wondered if his decision was a good idea. He felt a headache coming on. "For the last time, Tsuzuki, you're taking him. And Tatsumi can't have a partner because he's my secretary. He doesn't work in the field so there's no need for him to acquire a partner whereas you change partners as frequently as your underwear until Kurosaki came along."
The black-haired man visibly pouted. After seeing that, the chief turned around and addressed the new employee. "I hope you'll understand. Though he's a baby, he's got things to teach you. That's all, Tsuzuki."
Watching his boss walked away, Tsuzuki sighed. He approached his new responsibility carefully. During his lengthy career, he'd learned not to judge appearances. Doing that was always a fatal mistake. He decided to reserve judgment.
"Hajimemashite," greeted the dark-haired boy. "I'm L."
"It's nice to meet you," Tsuzuki frowned thoughtfully. He looked at the younger boy with wonderment. He didn't realize that his new charge was so young. L looked like he was barely seventeen. "I'm Asato Tsuzuki. You can call me Tsuzuki-senpai."
"Don't bother," a stern voice interrupted. "He can't act his age."
The two turned around to see Kurosaki Hisoka stride into the office with his usual frown. He was Tsuzuki's partner for almost two years now- the longest anyone endured. Brown-haired, green-eyed and with a feline grace, Hisoka used his delicate appearance to mask his strength.
Tsuzuki and Hisoka were good partners. Their partnership was also a good combination. Tsuzuki was impulsive, stubborn and childish while Hisoka was stern, mature and responsible. They were polar opposites. Their natures contrasted with each other. But it was what stuck them together.
"This is Kurosaki Hisoka," the black-haired man said when Hisoka caught up to them. "This is L."
Green met black. Electricity fairly crackled in the air. Tsuzuki had the distinct feeling that the meeting of two of Chief Konoe's protégés was not such a good idea. He sighed to himself. What was with this department? They kept sending him youngsters year after year. Did they think he was pedophile, or something?
"Hajimemashite," Hisoka said quietly. They bowed at each other. "L, is it? You worked with the International Crime Police Organization. You died when you were working on a case, correct?"
The pale young man nodded. "Yes, that's true."
"How'd you know that stuff?" Tsuzuki was amazed.
Hisoka glared at him. "I read his file. Unlike you who rely on gossip, I rely on research."
"Why?" Then violet eyes went wide with realization. "Oh, I see! You're possessive of your position!"
Red tinged the brown-haired boy's cheeks. "I'm not! Shut up Tsuzuki."
L watched the shinigami bicker. He could see that they were enjoying the little skirmish. When he agreed to this job, he thought that he would get the chance to see what the nature of the death gods was. But seeing them act like little kids was seriously making him rethink his decision.
He saw a chair and sat down. Knees drawn up, wiggling toes and hands clasped around his knees, he retained balance. It was a strange way to sit but he found that it enhanced his thinking. The other men in the office stared at him oddly but he didn't care.
The black-haired detective had lived without giving a damn about other people's opinions.
For as long as he could remember, he knew that he was indifferent. The whispers, the gossip and the taunting never worked on him. It might be because he had a high self-esteem that protected him from niggling doubts and unnecessary fears. He was aware of his intelligence and potential; he was aware that whatever other people said, he was still above it all.
He was fortunate to have lived in Wammy's house. If it wasn't for Quillsh Wammy or Watari, he wouldn't have known himself. It was quite sad that the old man had passed on to Paradise. But he would manage because he wanted to solve the case, no matter what.
L blinked. He realized that the other men were staring at him. "Is there anything wrong?" he asked politely.
"You sit strange," Hisoka pointed out. "Your hair's a mess, your clothes are old and you look as if you haven't slept in days. What's wrong with you?"
"I'm comfortable with who I am," L replied passively. "It doesn't matter what I wear or what I do. What matters is what I think."
Tsuzuki smiled, impressed. Hisoka looked miffed. "Let's grab a snack and you can ask us anything you want… I found this café that serves really good strawberry cakes…"
"Really, Tsuzuki," Hisoka groaned. "Shouldn't you cut down on your eating? Sweets in the morning is never good for you…
L looked up, alert. "Strawberry cake?"
"Yes," the violet-eyed man looked delighted that his charge was interested "and all sorts of cakes are available. I love to eat there."
"Do you like sweets, Tsuzuki-san?" L asked very politely. But the men saw the hungry look in his eyes.
Tsuzuki beamed. There was hope for them yet! He was lucky to find a fellow who adored sweets like him! "Yes, I do. Do you?"
The black-haired man nodded. He sucked his thumb lightly. "I love sweets. Can I still…eat?"
"Of course you can, dummy," Hisoka retorted.
Tsuzuki clapped L's shoulder jovially. "We'll get along just fine."
L smiled in spite of himself. The afterlife suddenly looked good.
The three men arrived in the café that Tsuzuki recommended. It was a small place with an old world charm. Lovely music played in the background. They ordered cake slices and tea but Hisoka refused anything too sweet.
While waiting, Tsuzuki turned to L. "You're new. Do you know where we work?"
"We work in JuOhCho," answered the dark-haired boy promptly "which judges the world of the dead. We work directly under the King of the Dead. It's our duty to smooth the process for the Kiseki, or list of the dead."
The black-haired senior laughed. "You've got it right. We work in the second block or Kyuushu."
"Which means we're basically not paid very well because work is slow," Hisoka piped up. He glared at his partner who smiled easily.
"Why don't you move to Tokyo?" asked L.
"It's a question we never fail to get," muttered the brown-haired boy with an annoyed expression "We can't because Tsuzuki won't. He hates work."
The black-haired man turned teary eyes to his partner. "You don't have to be so mean about it."
"Well it's the truth," snapped Hisoka. "But we more or less get our share of excitement. Chief Konoe must trust us if he handed you over to us."
Tsuzuki looked at L thoughtfully. "That's true. You must be quite special. I've worked here for almost seventy years and I've never seen him so interested in anyone."
"Except you," Hisoka said under his breath. He stared at L with a raised eyebrow. The young man stared back. "Well, you're the great L. I'm sure you're very talented."
L didn't miss the sarcasm in Hisoka's voice. He didn't bite the bait. "I'm jut one of many."
"You're still L," Tsuzuki pointed out. He rubbed his temples and gave him a pained smile. "The Kira business gave us trouble for months."
The black-haired boy stared at him thoughtfully. "So you knew?"
"Everyone knows," Hisoka said quietly. "We're not stupid. We heard the news. The Death Note that landed on the human world created lots of problems for us. What with all the unnecessary deaths and uncontrolled power, it was a wonder we still got to sleep."
"You mentioned something about the Kiseki," L started to say.
"The Kiseki is the List of the Dead. It's what records all deaths. A person who's supposed to be dead but is still alive halts the process." Hisoka drawled as he gazed out the window. "Our job, if you haven't noticed yet, is to investigate why."
"I've met a shinigami before I died," the black-haired man said slowly. He stared hard at them as though he was trying to figure something out. "But she didn't look much like you."
"Are you talking about Saya Torii and Yuma Fukiya?" Tsuzuki asked excitedly. There were lots of women shinigami but he was very fond of the two of them. If L met them then he could definitely trust him!
The detective shook his head. "She was called Rem and she had a Death Note."
The two men stared at him. Realization dawned on their minds. They immediately recognized who they were talking about. Tsuzuki cleared his throat. "There are two kinds of shinigami, L. We're shinigami who only take lives when it interferes with the law. We must do it because it's necessary. The other sort takes lives to balance the world and for their pleasure. They take human's lives because they want to."
"The Castle of Candles is where Hakushaku lives. He's in charge of assigning the life spans and putting out the list of deaths to be recorded in the Kiseki. That's the true reason why people die. The underworld accepts the souls who died on the right time. Hakushaku is lazy enough not to assign deaths by accidents or third-party interferences like murder and the like. But the other shinigami… They just kill when they want to, as they were supposed to do. And the Kiseki automatically records it. I think it's because they need to help Hakushaku keep up the quota," Hisoka explained in a soft voice.
He was still staring out the window. "Death Notes were special tools that the King of the Dead gave to them so that they may kill to their heart's desire. It's a kind of punishment, I guess."
"So Rem is a true shinigami," L said quietly.
"Yes," Tsuzuki answered softly. His eyes were kind. "We've met before. She was a kind shinigami. I didn't want to believe my ears when she died."
"And we are also shinigami," said the black-haired detective.
The black-haired man nodded. He didn't say anything except to thank the pretty waitress who served their breakfast. She smiled at all of them before walking away. It was obvious that she was quite taken with all of them.
"Yes, we are," Tsuzuki said conversationally. "So please understand that shinigami who holds Death Notes and shinigami who doesn't are still shinigami. We just have different methods and weapons."
"Weapons?" L frowned slightly. "Do you have something like the Death Note?"
Hisoka glared at L. "No. We use our spiritual energy or learn special arts to enhance our powers. If we don't, we're useless."
"Ah," the black-haired detective nodded in understanding. "It's all clear to me now. Thank you for your explanations."
They started on the strawberry cake.
Tsuzuki was very happy that L displayed so much enthusiasm on eating sweets. The fact that the young boy devoured his cake with something akin to reverence was heartwarming. He thought that he could get to like his charge if they shared something in common.
Hisoka refused the cake and opted for tea instead. He drank his tea, studied his notes and listened to their ecstatic conversation with a bad mood. His comrades didn't even notice.
The arrival of L into their lives was an unexpected event. It wouldn't do to be replaced by someone who was clearly intelligent beneath the thin guise of an indifferent young man. The chief was pleased to get L. Anyone would be pleased.
When he overhead Tatsumi and Chief Konoe talking about the new shinigami, he couldn't resist researching it. If a seventeen-year-old master detective was going to join them, he must be prepared to meet his competition. He knew that he was a precocious and intelligent young man but it wasn't anywhere near the heights of L's intellectual capacity.
Hisoka often wondered if he was being paranoid. But he was too pleased with his position as resident "genius kid" so he wasn't happy that he might get replaced. It was fairly obvious to anyone that he was just jealous and immature but he wasn't going to listen to that. If Hisoka had anything, it was his stubbornness.
"Say," Tsuzuki said out of the blue "you worked in the Kira case. That was really hard. Chief Konoe had a headache for months. All those deaths put the Kiseki to shame. We had to make adjustments and investigations on how to end it. Stopping the killer was really hard, huh?"
L nodded without comment.
"It killed you, didn't it?" Hisoka said bluntly.
The older shinigami looked at his partner, surprised. He wished that Hisoka wasn't so rude. It was bad for them if Chief Konoe ever heard of them abusing the new shinigami when they were supposed to be training him.
"I won't deny it." L shocked them this time. "I was killed by Kira. He was the one who schemed and manipulated to defeat me. I failed to deliver justice."
"Well, that's your fate," said the violet-eyed man kindly. "But don't you know that the shinigami who owned the Death Note that Kira picked up will kill him?"
"It's an agreement that was struck at the beginning of time," Hisoka added. "The shinigami must kill his human."
L nodded without speaking. He put more cake into his mouth. It was four years ago when he died. Time was not very important in the Underworld so he didn't care much.
He had undergone a lot of hardship to go through the training and then the consideration to become a shinigami. Turning his back on Paradise, weighing his chances and keeping his emotions in check had depressed him more after the realization that he was truly dead. But his sincere resolve to bring Kira to justice had driven him to accept the offer to become a shinigami.
It was only thanks to Chief Konoe whom he met by accident that the King of the Underworld agreed.
"Kira was really exceptional," Tsuzuki continued to say as he took another bite out of his cake slice. "He's got guts to use the Death Note. Most shinigami go mad and ugly when they accept it. It's only natural for him to grow crazy in time."
"Yes, I should think so." L agreed. The two older shinigami blinked and leaned forward. "We've met."
"Really?" Hisoka couldn't believe his ears! L really did meet the world-famous serial killer.
L nodded. "The percentage of his insanity is 99 out of 100. I suspected him from the start."
"So you became shinigami because of him? You want to take revenge?" Tsuzuki inquired. He couldn't believe this. L, the world famous and respected detective, chose the dull and dreary life of a shinigami to get back at his killer. Join the club, he should say.
Before the younger shinigami could say anything, Tsuzuki's cell-phone rang. The black-haired man winked at them and answered the call. They watched his smiling face change into surprise, annoyance and finally seriousness. He ended the call and stood up. "Let's get back to the office. Chief says we've got an assignment."
Hisoka drank the rest of the tea and got up. Tsuzuki complained under his breath about annoying interruptions before paying the bill. L merely stood up and licked the icing off his fingers.
"I don't want to work," the black-haired man muttered as they exited the café. Hisoka kicked his shin. "Ow!"
"Stop complaining," the younger shinigami ordered fiercely "We've got to show L what we really do!"
Author's Notes: This is a very important project to me. I promise I'll update when I can because I have to write other updates for other stories. But this idea had been kicking me on the shins all the time so I can't ignore it anymore. I hope everyone understands.
Please leave a review before you leave.